Elizabeth Murray’s (1940-2007) work expands the definition of painting and challenges its conventions. Now on view in the second floor galleries of Stanford University's Anderson Collection, Spotlight on Elizabeth Murray focuses on large-scale shaped, multipart canvases and related works on paper composed of dynamic forms in striking color, both from within and outside of the museum’s collection.
A major highlight of the exhibition is Murray's Chain Gang (1985-1986), a distinctive “oil on four canvases.” Measuring over nine feet wide by ten feet high, the work complicates the notion of the single canvas with the spread of its bat-like wings and ballooning lungs. In many of her works, including this one, Murray challenged the rectangular convention of the canvas with new edges, shapes, and lines. Chain Gang's cartoonish undulation matches the up-tempo melody of the Sam Cooke song for which it is named. The title of the piece, however, references imprisonment and forced labor, and the tar-colored organic forms convey the seriousness and darkness of Murray’s subject.
Spotlight on Elizabeth Murray is on view through March 25, 2019. For more information, please visit the Anderson Collection's website.